Law Closes Hit-and-Run Loophole

Created: 04/30/2014 10:51 PM
By: John Doetkott

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- On Wednesday, Governor Dayton signed a bill that will close a legal loophole for dangerous drivers.

The new law was spurred in large part by the high profile hit-and-run case involving Amy Senser.

In 2011, Senser hit and killed a man on a freeway exit ramp while driving drunk. Senser kept driving, and later when she was arrested, said she didn't know she had hit anyone.

Senser was ultimately convicted of vehicular homicide, but in 2010 a man named Mohammed Al-Naseer saw his vehicular homicide conviction overturned because the Minnesota Supreme Court said prosecutors couldn't prove he knew he had hit someone.

To remove any room for debate, the state legislature passed and signed a bill that says not knowing if you hit something is not an admissible hit-and-run defense.

Law enforcement officials said most hit-and-runs involve impaired drivers looking to avoid a ticket.

"That's probably the reason why they're not stopping,” said Freeborn County Sheriff Bob Kindler. “But the significance of stopping to find out what you have hit and resolving the matter is much more important that just trying to avoid the DWI arrest."

Sheriff Kindler said the region only sees hit-and-runs occasionally.

But experts say the key to avoiding deadly situations falls not only on drivers paying attention, but also on those working on the road outside their vehicles.

"Pull over to the side of the road as far as you can, use your hazard lights, put the hood up, try to give as much warning to other motorists that you're on the shoulder,” said Vern Dunham, a driving instructor with ABC Driving School in Austin. “It's your responsibility to be sure that you're safe."